New Musical Express, May 27, 1995

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Elvis Costello And The Attractions

London Shepherd's Bush Empire

Ryan Gilbey

There was no beard. There wasn't a Brodsky Quartet in sight. And there were none of those knotted, pun-peppered lyrics that you need a PhD in engineering, a microscope and a pair of tweezers to get to grips with.

There was, though, a grinning geezer in gaudy cerise shirt who spent nearly two hours hacking through he record collection with a bunch of mates, some of whom looked thrilled to bits just to be doing something other than playing in The Jonathan Ross Show house-band.

Shame Elvis was acting like such a jerk on his big night out. Yes, we were wondering why he looked so chuffed with himself, and why he bounded on stage with arms spread wide and a great big showbiz grin, and why he addressed us with a Texan twang — admittedly, funny at first...

"Tonight, We are going out live to all the folks in the USA," he declared proudly, before imploring us to "Free the Brookside Two!" The puzzled faces in Cragston, RI, must have been a joy to behold.

Unlike the show, however, which was like being locked in the saloon bar at the Slug & Lettuce with your anal retentive uncles and forced to listen not only to their yummy-chummy camaraderie but also their lumbering versions of every Screamin' Jay Hawkins B-side you (and Hawkins, probably) never knew existed.

Actually, that's not fair. There were three moments of pure, shocking beauty that would have made a Kray cry. The first was the best song off the drudging covers album Kojak Variety, The Supremes' "Remove This Doubt." It chimed, it soared, it had grown men plucking their own eyeballs out to stop themselves weeping. As did the band's darkly troubling version of The Kinks' "Days," and the obligatory "Alison," so frail you could only pray that Eddie Vedder never gets hold of it.

But one thing you can't forgive are Costello's indulgences. Jabbering like a giddy fool because the show was being transmitted to Backwaterville, USA, the experience was like your English teacher trying too hard to impress because the headmaster is sitting in on the class. If showbiz anecdotes and covers albums are what it takes to charm America, perhaps it ain't worth it

Tags: Shepherds Bush EmpireLondonThe AttractionsThe Brodsky QuartetThe Jonathan Ross ShowScreamin' Jay HawkinsKojak VarietyThe SupremesRemove This DoubtThe KinksDaysAlisonEddie Vedder

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New Musical Express, May 27, 1995

Ryan Gilbey reviews Elvis Costello & The Attractions, Wednesday, May 17, 1995, Shepherds Bush Empire, London, England.


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